Football and Horses: With the Grand National happening tomorrow, I read this snippet via the last popbitch mailout:

>> National treasures << They don't make footballers like they used to In the 1970s the Grand National, as an event, was dying. We all remember it as halcyon days, with Red Rum winning three times. But in 1977, when Rummie won his third race, fewer than 10,000 spectators were there. The race has been resurrected, in 2007, the crowd was 68,000. Back then Aintree was owned by an eccentric old lady, Mirabel Topham, with Ladbrokes having the thankless task of managing it for her. One poor chap was sent up to the course and given a scruffy office with a couple of desks and phones and told to sort out tickets, sponsors, hospitality - the lot. The only way he got through it was with help from a surprising source. Every day, after football training finished at Liverpool, Emlyn Hughes and Terry McDermott, big horse racing fans, came over with a crate of beer and got on the phones to make the sales calls. Somehow you can't quite imagine Torres and Kewell doing it.

Next item is via Reuters football news. It’s about Pele and Banksy and I like who Pele got to be his assistant for the match:

Pele and Banks XIs to meet in charity game, Tutu as coach

LONDON, April 3 (Reuters) – Gordon Banks and Pele, who between them provided one of the World Cup’s most memorable moments, will come together in Stoke later this year.

Brazil great Pele will unveil the first part of a triple statue in honour of former Stoke City and England goalkeeper Banks at the club’s Britannia Stadium.

The unveiling on July 12 will be accompanied by a charity match between a Pele XI and a Gordon Banks XI to help fight poverty in Africa, the club said on their Web site.

Pele’s assistant manager for the match will be Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The match is also intended to celebrate the lives of two famous sons of Stoke-on-Trent, Josiah Wedgwood and Stanley Matthews. Wedgwood helped end slavery while Matthews, who began his long and illustrious career at Stoke, taught children to play football in Soweto, South Africa.

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